An accounting irregularity discovered within Alibaba Pictures Group, formerly ChinaVision Media Group, could cause problems as the Chinese e-commerce giant prepares for its IPO. Alibaba paid $804 million in May to purchase a 60% controlling stake in ChinaVision, one of China’s largest TV and movie film studios, and put its own management team in place – which discovered the accounting error. The division’s mid year earnings report will be delayed as a result of the impropriety.
The accounting error raises questions about the wave of acquisitions that the Jack Ma-led company has made in anticipation of its upcoming debut on the New York Stock Exchange. According to Dealogic, the ChinaVision was one of thirteen deals completed by Alibaba this year, at a cost of $5.3 billion. Alibaba expects to be valued at as much as $200 billion when it goes public some time after Labor Day.
Reeling from a string of poor quarterly earnings, Samsung announced Thursday that it will acquire SmartThings, an open smart home platform that raised its initial funding on Kickstarter, for $200 million. SmartThings will continue to operate as an independent entity within Samsung’s Open Innovation Center Group. “We believe that there is an enormous opportunity to leverage Samsung’s global scale to help us realize our long-term vision,” wrote Founder/CEO Alex Hawkinson on the company’s blog, “Joining forces with Samsung will enable us to support all of the leading smartphone vendors, devices, and applications; expand our base of developers and enhance the tools and programs that they rely on.” Samsung competitor Apple announced HomeKit, a framework that integrates Apple products with the Internet of Things at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference this June, while Google purchased Nest Labs for $3.2 billion at the beginning of the year.
— SmartThings (@smartthings) August 14, 2014
Twitter announced through its quarterly filing that it paid $134 million for Gnip, a social media data aggregator that it agreed to buy in April. Gnip has full access to all of Twitter’s tweets, which it analyzes and resells as consumer insight insight to customers. Based in Boulder, Colo., Gnip had raised $6.6 million from the Foundry Group, SoftTech VC, and First Round Capital.
Rakuten, the biggest online retailer in Japan, announced last week that it had bought Slice, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider of e-commerce spending data for an undisclosed amount. Slice goes through users’ emails and aggregates transaction-related messages in one place, allowing them to track their shipments and easily submit requests for rebates. The access to the purchase histories of online shoppers is obviously a boon to e-commerce companies like Rakuten. “There’s tremendous value in this technology to any company doing business online,” Rakuten CEO Yaz Lida told The Wall Street Journal.
Slice had raised $32 million from a host of investors that included Rakuten, as well as DCM and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The acquisition will fuel speculation that Rakuten is preparing, like Alibaba, a big push into the American market.